Photography, Cycling and the Internets

Archive for September, 2007

Preparing My Yard for Sod — Erradicating Bermuda Grass

2.5 years later, the Fescue still looks great!

I have been in the process of trying to replace a yard full of Bermuda Grass with Dwarf Enduro Fescue since I recently added new sod into my back yard, and I don’t want to chance the Bermuda Grass from hitching a ride on my lawnmower and ruining my back yard. Bermuda Grass is very hardy and has been proving itself difficult to get rid of. I think I may have just-about gotten rid of it all. Or at least I hope I have.

Since Bermuda Grass can propagate by seeds, rhizomes and stolons, simply pulling it out, or even mowing very short won’t get rid of it. After researching several resources on the web, I now have a yard full of dirt, a couple random weed seedlings and no grass. This week my new sod arrives, marking my point of no-return.

I have been very patient, and deliberate in my approach in getting rid of the Bermuda Grass, since making a mistake could be very expensive to correct later.

Here is what I did to get rid of the Bermuda Grass, hopefully permanently:

  1. Sprayed a grass killer on the entire lawn that would kill the roots. Bermuda Grass has a deep root system, and leaving any part of it behind alive in the soil will get you more growing back later.
  2. Watered the lawn as normal a couple days after the treatment
  3. Repeated the spray one more time.
  4. About a month after the lawn completely turned brown, I used a rented sod-cutter to remove the top two-inches of soil. This worked with mixed results as my soil was a bit hard and I hadn’t ever used a sod-cutter before.
  5. Removed all of the old sod and had it hauled off.
  6. Rented a tiller and tilled the entire yard
  7. Smoothed out the yard and installed a sprinkler system. (For anyone looking for a fantastic resource on this, I recommend Jess Stryker’s Irrigation Tutorials. )
  8. Watered the dirt as if I was trying to grow a new lawn from seed. My goal here was to get all of the seeds in the dirt to germinate.
  9. To my surprise, more Bermuda Grass started showing up again, and these weren’t tender seedlings. These were new shoots from the bits and pieces of rhizomes left in the dirt, sometimes 2 inches down!
    • I sprayed more grass killer on the shoots for about a month
    • They kept showing up
    • Over the last several days, I began digging after them to pull out the entire root system, which wasn’t much, but enough to begin something ugly and expensive.
  10. I haven’t seen anything new show up in the last few days, so I ordered some topsoil and my new sod.

With any luck, I won’t have a blog post in a year complaining that the Bermuda Grass returned. I do have one last recourse out there, that I would rather not mess with. Apparently there is a product out there called Ornamec that is capable of selectively killing Bermuda Grass while leaving Fescue alone.

Please share your Bermuda Grass experiences. This is a popular search topic for folks out there.

Update 02/15/2010:

It has been 2 1/2 years since I went through the procedures above.  Other than a couple small appearances, I have not seen any Bermuda grass appear in the yard.  The bit I did see was on the edges and was easily removed by digging up the roots with a screwdriver.  The largest problem now is the normal weeds that appear periodically.  The photo at the top of this post was taken today.

Slippery Slope: Google can Land Planes at Moffet Field

Today the New York Times is reporting that the Google execs have been cleared to land their wide-body 767-200 and two Gulf Stream Vs at Moffet Field in exchange for $1.3 million a year and allowing their planes to be instrumented for scientific research. Moffet Field is run by NASA and is typically closed to private aircraft. Things can get quite noisy in Mountain View and Sunnyvale during flight activity at Moffet. This seems like a slippery slope in the usage restrictions of Moffet.



Bill Scott has been hard at work developing a pretty cool rapid prototyping tool, which he calls Protoscript, for easily proving complex web interactions. This is going to be very useful for helping designers, product managers, and anyone else that isn’t a hard-core developer to easily communicate their ideas to other people involved in a project.

All too often there are challenges for anyone that isn’t a user interface engineer to clearly communicate their ideas and get buy-in from other stakeholders. I have personally found in my career, developing a functional prototype has always made it easy to get buy-in on my UI ideas. This is because all of the subtleties of the interaction, including design, animations, timings, etc, are all present in the prototype. Since I know how to take full advantage of the sever and client, this has been something that has always been at my disposal as a developer that dabbles in design. For designers and product managers, the communication tools are things like Word, Photoshop, and Powerpoint (yes there are more but those are the common ones). None of these things end up making the prototype feel like it is actually part of the web page. None of them allow a third party to use it on their own computer, on their own browser. Often, this is key in getting a message across clearly.

I am hoping that as Protoscript matures, and as a GUI interface is built on top of it, the barriers for non-developers to get ideas across on real web pages should get smaller. This may be a wonderful tool for bringing down the cost of doing great web development.

For futher reading: Announcing Protoscript. Why Protoscript.

I Love the Google Earth Flight Sim

What a great addition to Google Earth.  It is still a very simple flight simulator, but flying around in very real looking terrain anywhere in the world is quite compelling.    You can really challenge yourself by trying navigate between airports by terrain alone.  I am looking forward to this getting more sophisticated over time.  I haven’t used the Microsoft Flight Simulator since I used to have it back on my 8088, so I don’t know how the two compare terrain wise.   But for a free, streaming flight simulator, the Google Earth one is definitely cool.